His younger lead guitar-playing brother Angus may be the main attraction of AC/DC in concert, but rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was the band's musical anchor. Born on January 6, 1953, in Glasgow, Scotland, Malcolm and his family relocated to Sydney, Australia, when he was ten years old. Inspired by his older brother, George, who hit it big as a member of the Easybeats (scoring a worldwide smash with "Friday on My Mind"), young Malcolm began playing guitar in local bands, one being the Velvet Underground (not the same VU as the one fronted by Lou Reed). By 1973, Malcolm decided to join forces with younger brother Angus, and after they lent their talents to an obscure recording (Marcus Hook Roll Band Tales of Old Granddaddy), the duo formed AC/DC. Although they went through numerous lineup changes, by the time the lineup consisted of singer Bon Scott, drummer Phil Rudd, and bassist Mark Evans in 1974, the band had already carved its niche (straight-ahead, unglamorous rock & roll) and was signed.
Angus' wildman persona, but Malcolm created quite an imposing figure on-stage -- standing stoically while bashing out Chuck Berry-esque riffs on his battered Gretsch Jet Firebird guitar. AC/DC's brand of tough barroom boogie created quite a stir with both metalheads and fans of just good ol' rock & roll who were sick of prog rock and disco -- issuing a string of classic albums in the process -- 1976's High Voltage and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1977's Let There Be Rock, 1978's Powerage and If You Want Blood, and 1979's Highway to Hell. With massive breakthrough success just around the corner, the band was dealt a devastating blow when Scott died from alcohol poisoning in early 1980, but AC/DC regrouped with new singer Brian Johnson, and returned stronger than ever with one of rock's all-time classics (and best-sellers), Back in Black.
Blow Up Your Video, Malcolm realized that a lifelong alcohol addiction had spiraled dangerously out of control. Not wanting to follow in the footsteps of Scott, Young took a leave of absence from the band to sort out his personal problems (his nephew, Stevie Young, filled in for Malcolm during the band's world tour that year). When he returned, AC/DC picked up just where they left off, releasing one of their most commercially successful albums yet, 1990's The Razor's Edge, and continuing their album-tour routine for the remainder of the decade and beyond.
However, in April 2014 Malcolm left AC/DC (his last live performance with the group had actually been in 2010) upon an announcement that health issues were making him unable to continue performing, and in September of that year it was reported that the guitarist was suffering from dementia. Malcolm's nephew Stevie joined the band full-time upon his uncle's departure. Malcolm Young died in November 2017 at the age of 64. His sturdy rhythm guitar style had influenced a legion of hard rock players over the years, namely Metallica's James Hetfield and Guns N' Roses' Izzy Stradlin.